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The legendary Doyle Brunson has always been a fighter. After a freak injury took away his ability to play sports, he moved on to poker and soon found himself in the toughest and potentially deadliest high stakes games in the country. Later, he became an icon of the game and continued to dominate players one-third his age. Now at 81, Doyle is facing his 12th major surgery and third cancer surgery.

Brunson confirmed the surgery late last night via Twitter: “Got my 3rd melanoma confirmed today. Early stages, should be simple operation. Fortunately, it’s on my head and everybody knows I’m hardheaded.”

Brunson later recognized the seriousness of his surgery despite it being relatively minor. He then decided to deal with it the way he has for over 60 years, by playing poker: “Simple or not, this will be my 12th major operation. Gonna play poker now because i always heard u get lucky right before u die.”

All-Time Great Still Grinding High Stakes Cash Games

While Doyle may be one of the greatest tournament players of all-time, those days have passed him. The ten-time WSOP bracelet winner announced last year that he was done playing tournaments. He had said so for a time but decided to play in the 2013 WSOP Main Event. He made one last deep run before hanging it up on tournaments, finishing 409th.

Doyle’s last open-field final table came in 2009 when he finished 7th in the $10,000 Stud 8 or Better World Championship. His last major open-field victory came in 2005 when he won his 10th WSOP bracelet in the $5,000 Short-Handed NL Event. He won the event with 10-3.

Nowadays, Doyle can be found grinding the cash games at Bellagio. He claims that tournament play leaves him too exhausted due to the long hours. Instead, he opts for games where he can make a solid score in a few hours instead of a few days.

We wish Doyle well in his surgery and hope to see him back at Bobby’s Room soon.

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James Guill

James Guill began his poker career in 2006, spending two years traveling the US tournament circuit. Since 2008, he has covered the game extensively for some of the biggest names in the industry. When not writing about the latest poker news, he can be found hunting for antique treasures in Central Virginia.